Undergraduate FAQ & Policies

Major/ Minor FAQ

How do I declare a Sociology minor/major?

You should initiate the declaration process in WebSTAC. Once you’ve completed that process, Sociology academic coordinator Candace Hall will contact you via email to set up an appointment to meet with her, complete a brief survey, and finalize a faculty advisor assignment. You will then schedule an initial meeting with your advisor to discuss your course choices and other plans.

How do I pick a sociology major/minor advisor?

Whenever possible, advisors are assigned based on your own stated preferences. During your initial meeting with Candace Hall, you will have the opportunity to request an advisor. While not a requirement, many students prefer to work with an advisor with whom they have established a relationship through prior courses. In other cases, you may prefer to be paired with an advisor who shares your specific interest areas within the overall field. Candace Hall and Director of Undergraduate Studies David Cunningham are both happy to discuss possibilities and provide advice along these lines. Note too that you are always able to switch advisors if you find that a different faculty member better matches your developing interests or activities. In those cases, please schedule a meeting with Candace Hall to discuss and finalize any changes in advisor assignments. Feel free to read through the faculty bios on the Sociology Department website to become familiar with potential advisors.

What sorts of careers does one pursue with a major in Sociology?

The short answer is almost anything, from law to education to policy research to non-profit management. Your advisor would be happy to have a more detailed conversation about how you can link your specific interests in Sociology to satisfying career opportunities. We also encourage you to check out the American Sociological Association’s career-based resources for Sociology majors.

Honors in Sociology (Latin honors)

Students interested in the opportunity to conduct focused original research on a topic of their choosing and whose grades satisfy the criteria for Latin honors established by the College of Arts & Sciences may elect to undertake a sociology honors thesis. Completion of an honors thesis is the only path to Latin honors for sociology majors.

Thesis projects can vary in scope, but typically involve original sociological research presented in the format and length of a conventional academic article – i.e. 30-40 pages of text, references, and figures. We recommend that students considering a thesis speak with their department advisor and/or other Sociology faculty members about their ideas as early as possible so that they are ready to hit the ground running, hopefully prior to the beginning of their senior year.

Students who write an honors thesis will register for SOC 4900 (3 units) in the fall semester of their senior year and the Sociology honors thesis course (3 units) in the spring. To receive departmental approval to register for these courses, students must:

(1) Satisfy the College GPA requirement for admission to Latin honors, now set at 3.65 through six semesters.

(2) Identify a department faculty member who has approved the content and scope of the thesis and is willing to serve as the student’s thesis advisor. (Note that this advisor can be – but does not have to be – the student’s department academic advisor.)


Prior to completing the thesis project, the student additionally will consult with their thesis advisor to identify a second thesis reader. The second reader may be another faculty member in the department or a member of the regular teaching staff (including postdoctoral fellows and adjunct faculty with on-going appointments).

After completion of the written thesis, each honors student will give a brief presentation (15 to 20 minutes, followed by Q&A) summarizing their research and attended by the advisor, second reader, and other interested members of the department. Following completion of all requirements, the advisor and second reader will meet to determine if the student’s work meets the department standards to be recommended for honors. In the case of a favorable recommendation, the level of Latin honors conferred (cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude) will be determined by the student’s grades through seven semesters in accordance with guidelines established by the College of Arts & Sciences.

Note that for projects that involve collecting original interview, survey, or certain kinds of observational data, this work will require “human subjects” research approval from Washington University’s Institutional Review Board (for an initial overview of the university’s IRB process, see: https://hrpo.wustl.edu/research-toolkit/).  

Beyond the Classroom

Study Abroad

Over time, the Sociology department will develop a list of specific programs that we recommend for students with particular interests in the discipline. More generally, however, we would advise you to select an abroad program primarily based on broader considerations, such as program location and format. Regarding the latter, you may find School for International Training (SIT)-sponsored programs to be especially strong options if you value immersion in local communities and experiential research opportunities above a more conventional campus-based experience. You can find a range of university study abroad resources through the Overseas Programs office.

In general, we are willing to consider a wide range of study abroad program and course options for major and minor credit. For a more definite sense of possibilities along these lines, we recommend that you schedule a meeting with your Sociology advisor and/or Director of Undergraduate Studies David Cunningham to discuss whether particular programs and courses meet baseline requirements for major/minor credit. While obtaining departmental approval for your Study Plan is a required step in the University’s study abroad application process, we recommend that you initiate conversations along these lines with your advisor much earlier, as you consider different location and program options.

Teaching and/or Research Experience

We are currently compiling databases of students who would like to be considered for available Course Assistantships in a range of departmental class offerings and Research Assistantships on faculty-led projects. These positions are compensated through course credit and/or an hourly wage. To join either or both databases, just fill out the brief survey available via our Course Assistantship and Research Assistantship portals.

Honorary Society

Washington University’s Sociology Department has reactivated its membership – first established in 1933 – as Missouri’s Beta chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta, the International Sociology Honor Society. Founded in 1920 to “acknowledge and promote excellence in scholarship in the study of sociology, the research of social problems, and such other social and intellectual activities as will lead to improvement in the human condition,” AKD provides a great outlet to recognize and further the accomplishments of our Sociology majors, and serves as a hub for students to propose and organize a range of department-sponsored activities. We look forward to working with our AKD members to build a strong, engaged, and collaborative community around the Department of Sociology! Keep an eye out for more details on how to join.

Departmental Policies & Procedures

Transferring credit

Students may seek credit toward the major requirements for up to two courses from a domestic study program (i.e., another four-year institution in the U.S.) or an approved study abroad program. Minors may seek course credit for one course taken at another institution.

Majors are eligible to use transfer credit to fulfill either (1) one lower-level plus one upper-level course requirement, or else (2) two upper-level courses.

Note that student options for using transfer credit to fulfill core requirements are limited to SOC 3050: Sociological Statistics. Both SOC 3030: Introduction to Research Methods and SOC 3001: Social Theory must be taken in Washington University’s Sociology Department.

Students interested in receiving credit for courses taught outside the department should submit a request for the Undergraduate Committee to review.  Forms should be submitted in advance of the semester in which students enroll in the course in question.  Course approval is contingent on an evaluation of the proposed course descriptions/syllabi, which students should upload with the request. To begin the process, submit your request here

Students with unusual circumstances, such as transferring from another institution, may contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss possible exceptions to the general policies discussed in this guide.